As just the second player in MSU history to record a triple-double, senior Charlie Bell has established himself as one of the top guards in the country.
Tonight, Bell and the No. 3 Spartans will face their first big challenge of the season as No. 6 North Carolina comes to Breslin Student Events Center.
One of the highlights of the game is the matchup between Bell and North Carolina guard Joseph Forte.
Itll be a wild night, MSU head coach Tom Izzo said. I think (Fortes) one of the better all-around players youre going to see come into this building this year. It could be a great matchup with two very good players.
After three games, both players numbers are similarly impressive - 22.7 points per game, 5.7 rebounds per game and 3.6 assists per game for Forte and 19.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 7.0 apg for Bell.
In Bells last game he tied his career high with 31 points on 12-of-13 shooting. He said he feels very confident about tonights game and looks forward to the matchup.
I feel that Im a great player and I just want to go out there and play as hard as I can and whatever happens, happens, he said. Hopefully my team can get the win.
Izzo said Bell has continued to improve into an all-around player this season, but added defense is still his greatest tool.
There are very few players that have been able to come into any college and play the kind of defense you need to play, he said. Charlie Bell was an exception to the rule. I think he can defend with anybody in the country.
Izzo said he is worried about the possibility of Bell using all his energy on defense. He said Forte is an explosive offensive player and he doesnt want Bell to burden himself with all the responsibility.
Hes got some Charlie Bell-isms in him, Izzo said of Forte. Hes got very good explosiveness and quickness, hes a slasher and a driver and hes a spot-up three-point shooter. On defense hes got very quick hands and gets his hands into everything.
He is what he is, and that (was) a freshman All-American because of what he can do. Hes an exceptional player.
Bell said he is well aware of Fortes talents. He added he knows his teammates have his back if Forte gets past him.
This is definitely going to be a big challenge for me, he said. Its hard to just go out and try to stop a guy one-on-one. Ill have to watch a lot of film and try to learn some of his tendencies.
Forte said he and Bell are both competitive players, adding he expects a top-notch performance from Bell.
Hes a very good player, he said. Well definitely be paying attention to Charlie Bell.
Forte said the Tar Heels havent forgotten about their loss to the Spartans last year in Chapel Hill, N.C. He said North Carolina is aware of MSUs second-longest home-court winning streak of 31 games, adding the Tar Heels would love to return the favor by snapping it.
Thats just part of the excitement of playing Michigan State, at Michigan State, he said. Plus theyre the defending national champions.